The Candid Counselor

Helping individuals overcome anxiety, depression, and life's issues

Dr. Julia Becker


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Licensed Psychologist
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Serving the greater Waco, TX area, including Woodway, Hewitt, Lorena, Bellmead, Robinson, and China Spring.

The Holidays are Hard for Perfectionist Moms

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, November 29, 2012 1 comments

 

bored_girl Perfectionist Moms, it’s hard enough to do what you do.  Every day is a new challenge, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything finished.  On top of the daily struggles, there are nagging thoughts about whether you are teaching the right values to your children and helping them grow into the adults you would like them to become.

 

Holidays add an extra layer to these difficulties.  Holiday traditions that were important in your family of origin seem important to pass down to your children.  Although these traditions are meant to be fun and joyful, they may not feel that way.  There is often a lot of anxiety about doing these traditions “right” and making sure everyone has fun.  High expectations can place a heavy burden on moms and take the joy out of activities.  When kids are whiny or unhappy, moms may be left wondering what they did wrong, and why they can’t be as good as their own moms were.

 

Furthermore, moms are often the ones who have to balance the needs of all family members, including extended family and in-laws.  Large gatherings of family members and limited time to spend with both sides of the family are common stresses that parents face during the holidays.  It’s impossible to please everyone all the time, and this fact is difficult for perfectionist moms to accept.  Perfectionist moms tend to focus on their limitations rather than what they are doing well.  Their goal of being a perfect mom is always just out of reach, and striving for that leads to frustration and negative feelings toward themselves.

 

Additionally, children are sensitive to their parent’s emotions, and they may act out or become stressed and irritable when they perceive that their parents are stressed and irritable.

 

Fortunately, many perfectionist moms are able to overcome perfectionist thinking and work toward becoming more content and happy.  Perfectionist moms work so hard to do things for their families.  When moms focus even a small amount of that energy on themselves, the benefits can be enormous.

 

Moms who attend counseling are often able to recognize and make changes to their perfectionist thinking.  Psychologists can help moms learn to manage stress in order to be happier and healthier.  These changes benefit moms, children, and other family members.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

christmas_tree

 

The holidays are approaching, and most college students are ready for some rest and relaxation.  Many plan to return to their parents’ homes for the month long holiday until the spring semester begins.  While these reunions can be joyful, they can also create a difficult adjustment for both students and their parents.

 

Common Difficulties:

 

Students have gotten used to having their freedom and functioning as adults.  Nobody asks them where they are going or asks them to be home at a certain time.  Parents may expect their children to follow a curfew or check in with them.

 

College is a time for students to develop independence and develop views separate from their parents.  During the first year, student’s views on  religion, politics, and other important life issues may have changed.  Students may expect to be able to express their new views at home as freely as they could during class.  When parents or siblings do not agree with these new views, arguments may result.

 

Students and parents may have different views on how the student should spend the holiday.  Students may go home expecting to relax the entire holiday season, while parents may be expecting their student to work or help out around the house.

 

Roles and rules have changed.  Younger siblings may have taken on new responsibilities and taken over space in the home that once belonged to the college student.  Each family member may have different expectations of how the returning college student will be integrated back into the family.  When these expectations are not met, tension can result.

 

Fall semester grades have come in, and students may not have performed as expected.  This can cause tension and arguing about what the student needs to do to improve.

 

How to Cope:

Anticipating these challenges and talking about expectations ahead of time may help prevent tension from developing.  Students and parents may wish to discuss curfews, schedules, use of the car, and other expectations.

 

Agree to disagree.  When it is clear that discussions are becoming heated, both parties can agree to drop the topic and move on.  Parents: Recognize that it is a good thing that your college student is learning to think for himself or herself.  Students: Recognize that it may be difficult for your parents to accept this new independent side of you, but be patient with them.

 

Students: Don’t forget about your siblings.  Try to understand how your absence and return may have affected them.  Talk to them ahead of time to see if there are any issues that need to be resolved prior to your return home.

 

If grades are a concern, set aside a time to discuss this.  Let the rest of the holiday be joyful and pleasant.  Parents: One discussion about grades will be more productive than many reminders about the student’s progress.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

How Do You Convince Someone Else They Need Counseling?

Posted by Dr. Becker Monday, March 19, 2012 4 comments

 

The concerned parent of a depressed college student

The friend of someone with severe anxiety

The wife that sees the emotional struggles in her husband

 

Each person has come to me asking for help for someone else.  In some cases, the other person is willing to receive help and just needs a nudge.  In other cases, the person being pushed toward help has little desire to change, or little awareness of their own difficulties.

 

Why is it so hard to convince people to go see a psychologist or counselor?

People develop ways of coping with stress and other emotions.  One common coping method is avoidance.  It may seem safer to avoid making changes and work to convince themselves that everything is really okay.

 

Many people have mixed feelings about the idea of making personal changes.  They would like to make changes in themselves, but they may feel fearful or hopeless about their ability to change.   These people may have considered counseling in the past, and each time they convinced themselves that it would not work out.

 

There is still some stigma attached to getting mental health counseling.  Some people feel embarrassed about needing help, or they may have been taught that getting counseling is a sign of weakness.

 

In a family system, one person may be the identified “patient.”  This could be a spouse or a child.  In each case, other family members believe that this person alone is responsible for all the difficulties in the family.  They have sent this person to counseling to get “fixed” without realizing or accepting the part that they are playing in the family dysfunction. 

 

What’s the best way to let others know that they need counseling?

First, approach the person gently with your concern.  Even though it may seem that they are not listening, you have given them an idea to think about later.

 

Have an attitude of compassion rather than blaming.  Do not choose a heated moment or argument with a friend or partner to tell them they need counseling. 

 

Lead by example.  If you have had a positive experience with counseling, let your loved ones know how it has helped you.  This can help decrease the feeling of shame that someone may feel about their struggles.

 

Be patient.  Let the person know that you are available to talk to them further about this in the future.  It may take several conversations about counseling before someone is ready to take the first step.

 

Consider seeking counseling for yourself.  It can be stressful to care for friends and family members with mental health problems.  Counseling may allow you to learn some skills to manage your own emotional reactions to the difficulties of loved ones.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

What are You Waiting For? It’s Time to Sail Your Boat

Posted by Dr. Becker Monday, February 27, 2012 0 comments

 

sailboats “To reach a port, we must sail—Sail, not tie at anchor—Sail, not drift.”
Franklin Roosevelt

 

A sailboat is propelled by the wind rather than by gasoline and a motor.  On days when the winds are weak, sailors sometimes become frustrated by the slow speed and lack of progress toward their destination.  The process of sailing requires education, practice, and skill.  While learning these sailing skills, beginning sailors often find that their boats do not go in the right direction and may not seem to move much at all.  Once the sailing skills are learned, experienced sailors can make progress even in low wind conditions.

 

Life is much like a sailboat ride.  Many people become frustrated when attempting to reach goals because they have not yet learned the skills needed to “sail” through each challenge.  Many people are “tying” their own anchors without realizing it.  Others are simply waiting for a strong wind to push them along while they continue to drift through life. 

 

Think about the goals you are trying to achieve.  What are you doing to tie your own anchor?  What can you do to propel your sailboat while you wait for the wind to pick up?  If you are feeling stuck in an important area of your life, consider talking with a psychologist or professional counselor.  Whether you are struggling with work, relationships, family, or school difficulties, you do not have to attempt to sail through these difficulties all on your own.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

Is it okay to clone your pet?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, February 9, 2012 0 comments

Dog 

The new TLC Special, “I Cloned My Pet” tells the stories of people who choose to clone their pets.  One participant on the show, Danielle, chose to pay $50,000 to clone her beloved dog named Trouble.

 

The ability to clone a pet is relatively new.  In the past, people simply expected to have their pets for a limited amount of time, knowing that their pets would eventually die.  As science has advanced, people now have the opportunity to attempt to hold on to their pets through cloning.  But is this healthy?  Aside from the huge financial cost of cloning pets, there may be emotional costs as well. 

 

Greif is a normal part of life.  Often children first learn about death through the death of a family pet.  Learning to cope with these losses can help prepare them to deal with future losses, including deaths of family and friends.  It is important for parents to be able to talk to their children about death.  Parents who choose to clone their pets may be sending confusing messages to their children, which is likely to interfere with the normal grieving process.

 

People who clone their pets are probably not allowing themselves to go through the normal grieving process.  Instead of grieving the death of their pet, they are attempting to hold on to their pet and replace it with a new one.  Cloned pets are not exactly the same as the original pet.  They may have different personalities, behavioral tendencies, and even physical characteristics.

 

Many people love their pets.  Some people love their pets so much that they cannot imagine life without their beloved pet.  They may go to extreme measures to clone the pet, including going into debt to pay for the cloning.  They may also experience sadness, disappointment, and even depression when the new pet is not similar enough to the old pet.  

 

Pets are great companions, and their presence offers many emotional benefits for people.  Cloning a pet who has died may interfere with the normal grieving process, as well as create high stress due to financial strain and unfulfilled expectations.  People who benefit from the love of pets are not limited to only loving their deceased pet or a clone.  There are many shelter pets who need to be adopted and have the potential to greatly enhance the lives of their owners.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

Does your child play “The Choking Game”?

Posted by Dr. Becker Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2 comments

 

New research from Sam Houston State University shows that 1 out of 7 Texas college students has played “The Choking Game.” This is a behavior involving the deliberate cuff off of blood flow from the brain, with the purpose of achieving a high. This behavior has also been called “The Fainting Game,” “Pass Out,” and “Space Monkey.”  This behavior is carried out both in groups and with  individuals alone.  Methods may include choking oneself or others with a ligature, or placing a plastic bag over the head.

 

The Choking Game has led to several deaths across the country, and this behavior is not limited to college students.  Teenagers and even pre-adolescent children are playing this dangerous game. 

 

There are several reasons why this behavior has become widespread.  First, young people may be using this method to attain a high because they mistakenly believe it is safer than using drugs or alcohol.  Another reason is that young people are often able use this method to to get high without being detected by a drug test, parents, or teachers.  Furthermore, prevention programs have focused on drug and alcohol prevention, and many have not addressed the dangers of the Choking Game.  The college students in the research study stated that the main reason they first tried out this game was curiosity.  Researchers also found that educating young people about the dangers of this game was effective in preventing the behavior.

 

How to talk to your child or young adult about the dangers of the Choking Game:

  • First approach your child in a non-judgmental, open manner.
  • Ask your child if they have ever heard of the Choking Game, and ask what they think of it. 
  • Ask them to tell you what they think the potential dangers of this game may be.  Teens and young adults tend to respond better to conversation rather than lecturing, so keep them engaged. 
  • Offer to go online with your child and do some research together about effects of the Choking Game.
  • Strive for and maintain a positive, trusting relationship with your child in order to help keep the lines of communication open.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

Teenagers, Mass Hysteria, and Tourette’s Symptoms

Posted by Dr. Becker Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3 comments

 

Recently 12 teenage girls from a school in upstate New York suddenly became very ill with Tourette’s symptoms, including tics and verbal outbursts.  High school cheerleader Thera Sanchez stated her symptoms appeared “out of the blue” after a nap one day in October.  The state health department performed an extensive search of the school to determine whether environmental factors or toxins were to blame for the girls’ symptoms. After the investigation, they found that the girls’ symptoms were not caused by an infection or any environmental factor.  Instead, the symptoms were caused by a psychological condition called conversion disorder, which is commonly referred to as “mass hysteria.”

 

Conversion disorder is a real psychological condition that is caused by stress.  People with conversion disorder experience  neurological symptoms, such as problems with motor control or sensory function.  This condition often causes significant impairment in several areas of life.  Conversion disorders can occur with individuals alone and within groups.  Stress can often be “contagious,” which explains why conversion disorders sometimes occur within groups of people or within crowds in public places.

 

Myths and facts about conversion disorder:

MYTH: People with conversion disorder are making up their symptoms.

FACT: People with conversion disorder are usually very distressed by their symptoms and are trying hard to find a physical explanation to cure their symptoms.

 

MYTH: People with conversion disorder want to be sick, and they are doing this for attention.

FACT: There are other psychological conditions in which people fake physical symptoms, but people with conversion disorder experience their symptoms as being outside of their control.

 

MYTH: People who get conversion disorder are “crazy.”

FACT: People who develop conversion disorder may be otherwise mentally and physically healthy.  Stress can affect anybody at any time, and nobody is completely immune to developing conversion disorder symptoms.

 

The brain is a very powerful organ that controls the entire body.  The brain influences both physical and emotional functioning.  Scientists and physicians used to think that the mind and body were completely separate and did not influence one another.  They believed that physical illness resulted only from chemical and biological factors.  In recent years, psychologists have begun to recognize the powerful role of the mind related to health and physical illness.  Many physicians and psychologists now embrace a bio-psycho-social model of health and illness.  This model helps explain how biology, psychology/mental processes, and social factors all contribute to health and illness.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.